I met Laura Schneider through her blog (it’s great, check it out here). I wrote her to tell her how much I loved it, and it turned out she lives close to me! What a small and exciting world. We met in person and decided to interview each other. When she’s not writing, Laura is a business coach for musicians and a social media strategist. I think you’ll like her as much as I do!
I’m so excited to have Laura here! If you enjoy this interview, please tweet her and let her know:Loved your interview, @schneidermusic! Click To Tweet
1). Let’s start at the beginning – how did you get started in music?
As cliché as it sounds, I got started when I was a kid! My parents purchased a tiny Casio keyboard when I was a toddler and I would stand in the front door and sing made up songs for the neighbors, much to their chagrin I’m sure!
More seriously, when I was 7, I was diagnosed with severe asthma. On the recommendation of the doctor, my parents signed me up for singing lessons to improve my lung strength and capacity. Little did they know they had set me down the path that would define my entire life!
Almost immediately I started writing songs and recording them on cassette tapes. As I got older, that transformed into recording at studios. I became addicted to performing at open mics and was a regular at a tea shop every Thursday night for years. In college, a filmmaker friend asked me to compose a song for her short film. That one score became more and more, which is how I landed a gig composing music for a short film that won a few filmmaker guilds awards.
All of this from a simple little keyboard!
2). When did you realize you wanted to do music as a career, and how did you get things rolling?
My career in music began as most do: I was a music teacher. For years I coached vocalists and taught piano out of small studios.
A few of my students began to ask me how to actually “make it” in the music industry today. I put together some simple charts of things to focus on, but it got me wondering if there was a blueprint for indie and unsigned musicians to follow. Then I started to read everything I could about the music industry and realized that I wanted to go back to school and get a business degree.
I was accepted to Claremont Graduate University just outside of Los Angeles where I spent 2 years earning my MBA. While out there, I interned in the music industry and realized something again: I didn’t want to work corporate. My passions were in helping those same musicians I had been teaching.
After graduating, I began coaching musicians online. Putting together my knowledge, I wrote a book, which you can purchase on Amazon (something that still shocks even me, ha!).
My mission is to help other musicians realize their dreams.
3). For someone reading this who might think they want to go into music business, what advice would you give them?
Read everything and anything you can get your eyeballs on. You can read about music, the music industry, trends on social media, how to set up a studio, the history of classical Indian music… there is so much knowledge available for free on the internet if you just took the time to read it.
And don’t limit yourself to reading just about music. Authors, artists, filmmakers, bloggers, and other creative entrepreneurs are also making a living doing what they love, often times from home. Observe what they do and see how they can apply it to your own career.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get out there and learn on the job. A lot of opportunities happened for me because I was willing to put myself out there and take a risk.
4). Tell us about what you do and how people work with you.
In entertainment, and particularly music, the business side is often left to mystery, leaving musicians wondering how and why things happen the way they do. It is my goal to break down these walls and let musicians know that, yes, they CAN understand the business, and not only that, learn how to do it themselves, or understand the how and the why of the business side so they can thrive and make a living off of their music career.
People can pop over to my website and visit the Work With Me tab to see a better breakdown of what I do.
Since most of my job is remote, almost all interaction will take place on the phone or over the internet via Skype or Zoom. Depending on what you want coaching for, I’ll send over a list of questions to better understand you and your music, we’ll hop on a call, make a plan, and then work one-on-one to implement said plan!
5). What are some of the struggles you’ve had in starting your career, and how have you overcome them (or how are you working to overcome them)?
My fears and struggles when first starting my music career as a music business coach were twofold: One, was it too late for me to start in this career in 2019? And two, would people really listen to what I had to say?
The second arose naturally from the simple fact that I am working in a space traditionally dominated by men: Music. Only 17% of the top performing global music artists were women in 2018. Only 2% of music producers are women in the USA. The only stat I could find for women in the music business comes from Canada, where sales and business have been combined to a total of 7%. Women in music are sorely underrepresented. I have experienced this myself several times in conversations where my knowledge and opinions were cast aside from the simple fact that the boys didn’t want to listen.
My fears of starting a career too late were also a subconscious manifestation of worrying that people would not take me seriously, listen to what I had to say, and things of that nature. Would musicians listen to what I had to say?
Both fears were overcome through the simple act of closing my eyes and jumping in.
I started to blog weekly, I posted on social media. I wrote a book that you can download on Amazon. Basically, I wanted to prove to myself that I have the knowledge and capacity to sit at this table and start to run this show. The biggest shift came from reaching out to other bloggers in the music space and offering to guest post as well as to companies in the music space and offering to write articles for them. To my amazement, they all agreed.
Today, my own stats are a reversal of the norm in that my audience is around 60% women and 40% men.
There are so many projects now that are just starting out as a result of taking that initiative and trusting in myself, that I am so excited to see where and how they develop.
6). Who are your ideal clients, and who would NOT be a good client for you?
Any musician who believes in their music and their message is an ideal client.
Any musician who believes that they have nothing to learn and the world is the one who needs to wake up to their brilliance would not be a good fit.
7). Once a client signs on with you, what can they expect from you?
A lot of questions! Ha! I love to dive deep into their history of music, what brought them here, and where they want to go in the future.
This helps me to understand them and work with them to the best of my ability.
No matter what their goal is for their career, I will work with them to make that a reality.
8). What do you expect from your clients?
An openness to changing what they’ve done in the past and a willingness to take a chance on themselves.
9). Do you feel that “anyone can make it” in music, or are there certain traits you look for to determine who will be successful? If it’s the latter, what are some of the things you look for?
It is my belief that anyone, yes, YOU reading this article, can make it in music. 100,000%
See, what qualifies as “making it”? For some people, it is to become a superstar like Beyoncé. For some, it is the ability to support themselves and their family with a music career. Whereas for others, it means to finally record that album they have been dreaming about for 30 years.
People have different ideas of success and what it means to them.
Today, with the internet the ability to make music is easier than ever. The tricky part comes in knowing what to do and when to do it. Which is why it is so important to teach yourself as much as you can, and to get a little help from a coach when you want to really level up.
10). What social media platform do you think is most and least important for musicians?
The only social media platform you need to be on is the platform that your fans are on!
Take a look at your ideal audience or ideal fan. Are they younger or older? Do they hang out on Facebook or TikTok? These are the questions you need to ask.
If you aren’t sure who your ideal fan is, look at the people who respond best to your music. Who are they people who come up to you after an open mic night? Who are the people leaving comments on your posts? They are your ideal fan. Lean into it.
11). Outside of music, what do you do for fun?
Read! (That was an obvious answer, yes?) I adopted a puppy 2 years ago and do a lot with him. He has earned a few trick titles and we are working on our first agility title right now. You can also find me in the kitchen where I enjoy experimenting with gluten free cooking and baking.
12). What are some of your goals for your career, and how are you working to achieve those goals?
I would love to create an online ecosystem of programs, coaching, apps, and more just for musicians. It would all be affordable and updated with interviews of people working in the industry, how to videos, and basically be a total indie music one-stop-shop!
Each day I am working towards it by helping musicians in the best ways that I can. Slowly but surely this can be built!